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W-Basketball: Freshmen Fuel Rout

Warriors blast Badgers to move into tip-off tournament title game

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WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior Piper Chapman (Portsmouth, RI) scored a career-high 33 points on the strength of 14-of-18 shooting from the floor in only 19 minutes and all 13 healthy players saw time as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team routed Johnson State College, 117-43, in the opening round of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament Saturday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Piper Chapman (Cristina Danielson photo)

Eastern (1-0) will face Montclair State University (2-0) Sunday at 3 p.m. in the championship game of this 32nd annual tournament. The Red Hawks survived a 73-66 first-round victory over Regis College, MA (0-1) to advance to the title game for the third time in three tip-off appearances. Regis will meet Johnson State (1-1) to determine third place Sunday at 1 p.m.

Against the Badgers, every Eastern player contributed at least one rebounds and ten broke into the scoring column. In her collegiate debut, 5-foot-10 inch freshman Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) came off the bench for 19 points and a game-high 14 rebouds in 23 minutes, while junior Lauren Kelleher (Dartmouth, MA) had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

As one of eight newcomers to see time, freshman Danyelle Rodriguez (Willimantic) added ten points off the bench, freshman point guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) had eight points and thre assists, freshman Theresa Hart (New Fairfield) six points and first-year sophomore Saige Johnson (Guilford) three points. Freshman Jasmine Claxton (West Haven) contributed three points and two rebounds in seven minutes off the bench.

Eastern defeated Montclair, 55-52, in the 1992 title game before the Red Hawks beat Eastern, 51-47 in the first round of the 1996 tournament en route to an 89-63 trumph over Salve Regina University in the championship tilt.  It marked only one of four times that Eastern has not competed in the championship game. The Warriors, the 2010 champions, went on to capture seven straight crowns after Montclair's 1996 championship.

Montclair Withstands Regis

In a game where 54 points came from the free throw line, Montclair forced 19 turnovers and converted 24 of 31 free throws to send first-time tournament competitor Regis (0-1) into the consolation game.

Montclair took the lead for good, 50-45, on a jumper by Michelle Montagna and layup and free throw by Melissa Tobie with 11 minutes left, but was never able to push the advantage into double figures.

Tobie scored 14 of her team's 30 first-half points and finished with a game-high 25 points. She was 8-for-14 from the floor and sank nine of 11 free throws and also grabbed eight rebounds. Theresa Towns added 15 points (6-for-6 from the foul line), Jaime Ericson 12 and Taylor Jeffers shared game-high rebounding honors with five.

Claire Ramonas led Regis with 17 points and nine rebounds while Stephanie Crawford was perfect on 13 free throw attempts and totaled 15 points. Eilee Marro had nine points and nine rebounds, seven of her points coming from the stripe.


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